Nice weather, hours of beer drinking, a big athletic event and a crowd of restless young men. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says it is a recipe for a riot, whether at Minnesota State University, Mankato last weekend, the University of Minnesota last spring, or Ohio State University last year.
Campus rioting has become such a concern, the
Star Tribune says, that last month 10 universities sent representatives to New Hampshire to discuss how to prevent riots. Next month, the University of Minnesota will co-host a two-day seminar on the issue at Ohio State.
Alcohol is a primary spark. If schools can’t changte the party culture right away, they can do other things like coordinate action between college and city police departments and impose serious penalties for off-campus misbehavior.
Some experts call rioting by students and other young people a budding campus fad. “The scary thing is that riots have become a tradition at some universities, and students come from other cities because they want to be part of it, see it and experience it,” said Raymond Montemayor, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State who served on an anti-rioting task force. “Hearing about these riots has, to some extent, removed the taboo about this behavior, or at least reduced it.”
The Mankato riot was Minnesota’s second linked to a university in seven months. It began late Saturday and stretched into Sunday, with 2,000 to 3,000 people moving through the streets, some of them flipping and burning a car, torching Dumpsters and doing as much as $200,000 in damage. Forty-five people were arrested, about half of them students.
In nearly every riot near a college campus, cars are flipped and torched. Dumpsters are set on fire. There is video of young men swinging bats at property, strutting around burning cars and looking to the surrounding crowd for affirmation. Rioters are almost always men, while crowds usually include men and women. Montemayor said of Ohio State students who rioted: “They were drunk and caught up in the power of the crowd,” he said. “They do things they wouldn’t do when they’re sober. Put lots of them together in a big group where there’s a sense of anonymity . . . and it doesn’t take much to egg them on to do things like set cars on fire.”